23 Jul 2013

Why should a manufacturer of automotive lifts certify their product? Because buyers are more likely to prefer it.

You may recognize some of the labels and certification marks on products you see each day, but have you ever wondered why they're needed or why a manufacturer gets them? Safety certification, in most cases, is a requirement before a product can be sold or installed. In other cases it's just good business practice and a competitive advantage. If a buyer is faced with a choice between two equivalent products, and one has a safety certification and one doesn't, the choice is usually quite clear. People opt for safety.

Today, health and safety officials are increasingly requiring products such as automotive lifts to be certified for new construction installation or for continued use. In fact, the vast majority of building code enforcement agencies across the U.S. and Canada now require all vehicle lifts installed within their jurisdictions to be certified to reduce the potential for workplace injuries. Insurance companies, with premiums rapidly on the rise, are also looking for certified products to be used. Some insurance companies won't underwrite a facility that doesn't have proper safety certifications for electrical, gas-powered, and other applicable products.

Of course accidents can still happen, but the overwhelming majority now are related to operator misuse, lack of training, or poor maintenance. A shrinking percentage of accidents today are due to product failure or faulty design. Safety and quality requirements are a key driver behind that trend.

When you purchase a certified lift you are relying on its quality and structural integrity, as well as the lift manufacturer's many years of design expertise. You are also benefiting from the testing laboratory's experience and qualifications. The laboratory should be an OSHA recognized Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory or "NRTL" in the U.S., or an SCC accredited Testing Laboratory and Certification Body in Canada.

A manufacturer that makes certified lifts is required to have a quality system in place to ensure each model is made the same way time after time. A condition of certification is that the product will be subjected to ongoing inspections and the laboratory's inspectors will perform factory audits a least twice a year to ensure program procedures are being followed.

In order to meet the ANSI/ALI ALCTV (Standard for Automotive Lifts – Safety Requirements for Construction, Testing, and Validation), manufacturers must prove the lift's designers and welders are qualified, and the lifts are required to have ultimate material strengths at least equal to three times – and for some components, five times – the stress they will be subjected to under normal rated use.

That's quite a performance feat, but would you trust the safety of those working near a lift with anything but a certified model? Share your thoughts, comments and questions and I'll be happy to reply.

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